Last Sunday, Palmer and I went to Walter B. Jacobs Nature Park, one of my very favorite places in the general vicinity of Shreveport, for a presentation and hike called The Fungus Among Us. Turns out fungi are a lot more complex and diverse than I realized. While I can’t tell you much about the various types of mushrooms, I did learn that, for me, at least, going mushroom hunting for dinner is a very dangerous idea. I also got some reasonably good pictures.
Penny didn’t get to come along this time because it wasn’t exactly a pet-friendly topic and there’s no way she could have sat still for the presentation. That’s for the best, though, because it was a dreary, rainy day (which I guess is good for mushroom-viewing) and she would have tested every
single mud puddle.
Palmer was also taking photos. He got this pretty amusing one of me being all excited toward the end of our hike.
So, as you saw in the last post, we got a beautiful Christmas tree, and everything was going swimmingly. Even Zelda was (mostly) leaving it alone. I took the plunge and strung up the lights and garland, and Palmer put the angel on top.
Pretty nice, right? (I’ll give you one guess why I didn’t take the garland down to the bottom.) Well, that lasted for a couple days, then THIS happened:
And that was not the worst of it. I was minding my own business, watching TV, when I heard a creaking sound. Zelda wasn’t involved because she was lying on the sofa right next to me. I look at the tree, and it’s leaning so far forward I thought it would topple over any minute. I went over there and leaned it against the wall, but not before the angel fell forward, losing her head as she hit the floor. I thought the adjustable leveler had come undone, which I could fix myself, but one of the screws around the base had come loose.
Awesome. Even more awesome is the fact that Palmer won’t be home to fix it for almost two weeks. MEH.
In more pleasant news, I made some fantastic gingerbread muffins, and I’m totally going to share the recipe. You really should try these. There are lots of weirdo recipes floating around Pinterest right now (one of which I was stupid enough to try), but this one is taste-tested and approved, guaranteed bs-free.
And they’re SO easy to make – as are most muffins. They’re also pretty sweet. For me, anyway.
Mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, canola oil, unsweetened applesauce, and an egg with a mixer, which brings us to the Ugly part of this recipe:
In another bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, baking soda (are both really necessary?), cinnamon, and allspice.
You might want to add a tiny sprinkle of black pepper because said pepper is always good in gingerbread. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and you end up with a batter that looks suspiciously like peanut butter…or that uber-tasty Biscoff butter. Yum.
Aww, yeah. I could have eaten ALL of that with a spoon.
And that’s about it! Dump it into a lined muffin tin, and pop it in the oven for about twenty minutes. You’ll be impressed with your Christmas baking skillz.
I’ll take twelve, please.
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Lindsay Attaway
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lining the cups with paper cup liners or by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, oil, applesauce, and egg until well blended.
In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Batter will still be slightly lumpy, which is fine – do not overmix.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups (use an ice cream scoop!).
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
I’ve been planning on (re)introducing food posts to this blog for a while, now, so here goes. (It’s a particularly good time because I need to review TheBone Clocks but am having a hard time settling it in my mind.)
I have a ginormous stack of cookbooks at home, but I tend to get most of my recipes from Pinterest, which is a pity because so many excellent recipes are just plain ugly. Like this one! (I’ll put a lovely photo of a sunset down at the bottom so your eyes aren’t assaulted by Facebook’s choices of images.)
This is my dad’s recipe for what seems to be a non-traditional Shepherd’s Pie, which is funny because I don’t think I’ve ever had traditional Shepherd’s Pie – you know, the kind onto which you pipe out mashed potatoes and stick in the oven for however long. Traditional Shepherd’s Pie, though, is much more photogenic. This recipe involves no baking and only takes a few minutes to make, so it’s good for weeknights. It involves one specialized ingredient, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Here’s how to make it, in brief: Brown your ground beef, kind-of drain it, add vegetables, add spices, pour it over mashed potatoes. The End.
Well, here’s the (very minor) catch: it involves Kitchen Bouquet. I’ve never used it for anything other than this specific dish, and every time I have to buy it, finding it is a nightmare. Sometimes it’s near the spices, and sometimes it’s near the barbecue sauce. Most grocery stores have it. Here’s a photo of it next to the organic, non-chemically cream of mushroom soup I insist on using even though I’m adding All the Chemicals with Kitchen Bouquet:
I promise it’s worth it. Here’s a lovely before-and-after shot:
Kitchen Bouquet makes a huge difference in color and taste and is one of the very few situations when I will willingly deposit chemicals into my food. Just do it.
And don’t neglect the mashed potatoes! I make these ugly, too!
I leave the skin on because Fiber Is Good for You. 2 or 3 good-size potatoes should suffice. I just boil them until they’re soft, then dump them in a bowl with a dash of salt and however much butter and milk I feel like adding. I like them plain and lumpy.
And there you have it! An excellent, but very ugly, recipe for Shepherd’s Pie that won’t set you back any oven-time. Of course I choose what is quite possibly the ugliest recipe I have for a first recipe post. Anyway, let me know if you try it.
Author: Lindsay’s dad (or grandmother?)
Serves: 4 servings
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Salt to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
Mashed potatoes (3-ish)
Brown the beef, half-ass drain. Add veggies, cook until soft. Add salt and pepper. Add cream of mushroom soup. Add Kitchen Bouquet, add more if not brown enough. Put on top of mashed potatoes.
.05 carb factor for the meatz. In case you’re counting.
Aaaand here is our beautiful sunset that will end up on Facebook. Dog-walking is an excellent activity.
At the beginning of this year, I made the decision to stick with book-themed posts rather than make my random deviations into food and photography, and, well, I’m breaking that rule here because I want to Share the Wealth.
Alligators are Zelda’s very favorite treat. She pricks up her ears every time she hears the word, and she’ll willingly walk into her kennel and sit down to enjoy one of these tasty treats. I make them twice a month, or so. One batch makes around 85, but they disappear very quickly. I like that I know what’s in them and that they don’t contain soylent dog or some equally unappetizing substance. Sure, lots of people disapprove of feeding dogs wheat, but Zelda enjoys it, and I don’t think it’s much worse for her than it is for humans (have you read Wheat Belly?).
So here goes: How to Make Alligators!
You’ll need all of 4 ingredients. You probably have them in your kitchen right now.
2 cups wheat flour (don’t substitute all-purpose)
1 cup oats
1-1/4 cups hot water
1/3 cup peanut butter
Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix up the oats and wheat flour:
Then, get your peanut butter and dump it in the bottom of another bowl (I use a stand mixer, but a spoon will probably work).
Pour in your hot tap water and mix it until it’s reasonably blended. It’ll look kind of gross.
Next, pour in the dry ingredients and mix it all up. You’ll get a nice, thick dough.
Roll it out to 1/4- or 1/8-inch thick and cut it into the shapes of your choosing. I use an alligator cookie cutter my stepmother gave me several years ago. If you absolutely hate cookie cutters, roll it out and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter. Your dog won’t mind.
Put your squares or alligators or mustaches or whatever on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 25 minutes.
They come out of the oven looking almost exactly like they did going in.
Once they’re cool, store them in an airtight container or freeze them. They’ll probably last forever in either case since no perishable ingredients are involved.
Zelda loves them – except when I try to capture said love on video. Then, she’s totally nonchalant.